PLOT: When Dr. Martin Harris and his wife Elizabeth arrive in Berlin for a seminar, the good doctor finds that his life has been altered. After Dr. Harris is in a near fatal car crash, he wakes up from a coma to find that his wife has no idea who he is, and Aidan Quinn has taken his place. He must then piece together the mystery of who he is, and why strangers are trying to kill him.
REVIEW: There are facts known regarding Liam Neeson’s latest thriller, UNKNOWN. Fact number one, Mr. Neeson makes for a very capable action-hero. Fact number two, similar roles would most assuredly be offered to the talented actor thanks to the success of TAKEN. Fact number three, while you may have only suspected it, Unknown doesn’t live up to Taken, at least not as much as it could have. Neeson is fine as Dr. Martin Harris, who along with his wife Elizabeth (January Jones), are attending a seminar in Berlin. Once the couple arrives at their hotel, the believability factor is thrown out the window. Without giving too much away, the good doctor’s briefcase is left behind at the airport. Instead of telling his wife they left the baggage behind, he just takes off in another taxi. This knee-jerk reaction seems to be a common one for the writers of this “drama”.
Lucky for Dr. Harris, once he jumps into the taxi to look for his missing luggage, he finds that his driver is Diane Krueger!?! Really!?! Ah, if only real life were like the movies! I’ve never had a taxi driver that looks like Diane Krueger… anyway, the man is in a hurry, the driver takes a short cut and BAM, they are in a terrible accident. He wakes from a coma four days later.
For the rest of the film, in true heroic fashion, Harris tries to find out exactly who he is with the help of his taxi driving friend. Of course you can expect car chases galore and a number of exciting moments where they narrowly escape a tragic demise. Unknown certainly wants to be a clever thriller, and occasionally you might be deceived into thinking it is something unique, but it is simply a decent popcorn flick.
In many ways, Liam Neeson is what Harrison Ford became back when he made films like FRANTIC or PRESUMED INNOCENT. Neeson, much like Ford, is smarter than your average hero. They are rugged, worn and don’t look as though they could take on a bunch of guys in a fight, but they make it believable enough. Personally, I prefer Neeson as he continues to prove he is really an incredible actor. Yet his work in Unknown feels a bit too familiar. Maybe it was too soon after Taken, but Neeson’s character here and this story around him just feels uninspired.
UNKNOWN won’t be mistaken for a tightly wound, exceptional thriller. Implausible, over-the-top, ridiculous and for the most part, fun is a much better description for this “smart suspense” flick. This is recycled and predictable, with the occasional boredom of familiarity. Yet thanks to the cast and the director, Jaume Collet-Serra who helps keep it moving (mostly), the entertainment is in the adventure. One of the most satisfying moments comes when a couple of really nasty bad guys meet their grisly deaths. It was cheer inducing even. In the end however, this is simply an entertaining action movie with a likable cast, too bad they didn’t have a better script to work with.
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